This article investigates the notion that ‘managing change involves changing management’. The discussion is not on the changes per se but rather on the radical rethinking of the university culture and the re‐examination of ways of conducting the business of higher education. In order for systemic changes to take place, it is essential that everybody in the institution should be involved and be ‘empowered’ to identify their crucial and unique part in the scheme of things. The notion of ‘empowerment’ is, therefore, interrogated within the framework of transforming higher education for its participants including students, teachers and leaders. Congruent with the notion of ‘empowerment’ is the concept of ‘Learning Organisations’. Discussion of the concept is around the university being a changing system that requires a commitment to continuous improvement and empowerment for all of its members with a spirit of inquiry and continual learning. Copyright © 1999 Taylor & Francis Ltd.